Smile Politely

A synergistic effect

I talked to local artists Nick Martin and Isaac Arms about their brainchild, “Sound + Light.” After talking to these two creative gentlemen, I found that, yet again, there is an amazing event happening at the Art Theater Co-op that I won’t be able to attend. That’s the busy life of a performer/writer/producer! Please, do me a favor and go. From what I hear, it’s going to be a unique, creative collaboration.

Smile Politely: Where is “Sound + Light” going down? What is it?

Nick Martin: It’s going down May 8 at the Art Theater at 9:30 p.m. It’s a mixed media concert where bands play live music over a movie screening.

Isaac Arms: I dubbed the event “Sound + Light” to leave the execution up to the artist. Execution and interpretations are myriad, but our palette as performers simply consists of sound and light.

Spaghetti Recess

SP: Who’s playing that night?

Martin: For the inaugural show, the bands include Spaghetti Recess (a “side project” of Urbana super-cuties, Grandkids). It’s basically the members of Grandkids playing instrumental music that’s very different from [that band’s] music. They’re going to provide the soundtrack for the first half hour of 2001: A Space Odyssey (the part with the monkey men!). 

Isaac: Spaghetti Recess (members of Grandkids) will be jamming out to the beginning of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Withershins are scoring the final half hour of Duncan Jones’s Moon, whereas I Am God. are performing songs normally found in their set while A Talking Cat!?! is projected. (This will be I Am God.’s last show, and this will be bonkers.) I think it will be an artistically bonding experience.

As regards the audience, hopefully we can capture aspects or emotions in the film that had been otherwise unnoticed, or maybe make an audience member will consider a character or plot point in a new light.

I Am God.

SP: How did you get involved?

Martin: Well, a few months back, I saw Austin McCann was looking for interns to help out at the Art Theater. At the time, I hoped the job might give me a chance to see the projector. Not only have I seen the projector (twice, in fact!), but Austin asked if I had any ideas for the co-op. I did!

Arms: Nick Martin approached me several weeks ago about having rock bands perform at the Art Theater. I’ve had it in my head for some time to work on a project of this nature, both as a booker and a performer. I feel most wholesome promoting shows that have a narrative (i.e., not “just another rock show downtown”), and this certainly qualifies. It’s been great working with Nick and Austin to organize and promote this event.

SP: Why the Art? It’s a great place, but what made you think of it for this?

Martin: Since the theater’s such a beautiful space and it’s got fantastic acoustics, it seemed like a no-brainer to repurpose the room for non-movie-exclusive entertainment. The first show I put on [at the Art] was a comedy showcase. It went smashingly!

So, my next idea was to plan a concert at the Art. I remember seeing a show [there] for Pygmalion in 2010 (ninety percent sure it was Grandkids), so I knew it’d be possible. I enlisted the help of my friend/local music guru, Isaac Arms, and he’s been helping me with stuff that I, as a non-musician, don’t know (like getting a PA, boom mics, attracting hot boy groupies, etc.)

Arms: As a band generally labeled as being a “post rock” group, [my band] Withershins does indulge in the cinematic, even when there are no visuals whatsoever; thus, having the chance to really enhance those moments on the silver screen is terribly appealing to us. I can think of many bands off the top of my head that would be a perfect fit for this performance format. I truly hope it is well received so that this can continue as a series here in Champaign at the Art Theater.


Martin: More or less, the reason I’m putting this show on is because I love seeing movies in theaters and I love watching bands play live. Putting the two together may be the most synergistic combination since chocolate and cocaine. Hopefully, other people agree and want to see this too!


Sound + Light happens this Wednesday, 9:00 p.m., at the Art Theatre Co-op. Tickets are $3.

All photos taken from the bands’ respective Facebook pages.

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